PLANT: Annual or perennial herbs; stems simple or branched, prostrate to erect. LEAVES: cauline and opposite or alternate, or all basal, often fleshy; stipules present as axillary hairs or absent. INFLORESCENCE: racemose or cymose, terminal or axillary, or flowers solitary; bracts present or absent. FLOWERS: actinomorphic, perfect; pedicellate or sessile; sepals 2 (rarely 5-9); petals 5-18; stamens 1-many; ovary superior or inferior (in Portulaca), of 1- many fused carpels, 1-loculed; placentation basal or free-central. FRUIT: a 1-many-seeded capsule, splitting at apex by 2-3 valves or circumscissile. SEEDS: smooth or sculptured. NOTES: Ca. 30 genera, 500 spp., cosmopolitan, especially w. N. Amer. Some genera are cultivated as ornamentals (Lewisia, Portulaca); leaves of a few species can be eaten as greens or pot herbs; roots of Lewisia were historically used by Native Americans as a starchy staple (Moerman 1998). REFERENCES: Bair, Allison, Marissa Howe, Daniela Roth, Robin Taylor, Tina Ayers, and Robert W. Kiger. 2006. Vascular Plants of Arizona: Portulacaceae. CANOTIA 2(1): 1-22.